There’s an immense wave of influence and inspiration in house music coming from South Africa, and it’s absolutely undeniable. House music is truly everywhere across South Africa, so it’s no surprise that the world has received such incredible talents like Black Coffee and Culoe De Song, to name a few.
The communal love of house music was established in 1994, soundtracking the celebrations that ensued after the abolishment of apartheid. Giving people new found uplifting new feelings of freedom and hope, house music came to embody a joyful new spirit and message of love across South Africa.
“Where politicians fail, music will always win,” says DJ Fresh. “Music will always bring people together because we all have a heart, and with your heart comes a heart beat. If you play music to it, before you know it, we’re all on the same rhythm.”
Using music as a means to a better life is a story we can all get behind. It’s the reason why Black Coffee, a native of South Africa’s Durban, has seemed to effortlessly capture hearts around the world. His success as an artist has allowed him not only to collaborate with pop names like Drake and Alicia Keys, but also launch foundations (including the DJ Black Coffee Foundation and the FAM Academy, a college dedicated to fashion, art and music launched in partnership with high-profile designer Virgil Abloh) to give back to his community and help other creatives rise on an international scale.
“House music found a home here because it has a certain soul South Africans connect to,” Black Coffee once said.
In addition to house music, South Africa has a special affinity for several types of distinctly South African subgenres like kwaito and gqom. Kwaito’s roots date back to the 1990’s as a mix of disco and hip-hop along with Western house music. It has evolved to include vocals rapped over prominent bass beats, and also come to capture a lifestyle rather than simply a genre. Gqom (pronounced “gom” with a clicking sound on the “g”), is a raw development from kwaito that evolved from the Zulu-dominated neighbourhoods surrounding Durban’s city centre. Instead of the regular beat of house and the polished production techniques of commercial South African kwaito, the gqom that comes out of the townships uses broken beats and is made on basic home computers, with producers often deploying repetitive, sliced vocal samples, echo, and heavy percussive beats for a darker, more gritty take on the house music sound.
Today, house music is everywhere in South Africa, and the country is teeming with incredible rising talents ready to take the global music scene on.
Mixmag has teamed up with BUDX to bring the very first Lab Johannesburg, which will kick off on May 15 with Seth Troxler, Da Capo and DJ Buhle and continue every week for the next few months. Keep an eye out for more info, coming soon.
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